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Family Law Tip of the Week: What Court Staff Wants Family Lawyers to Know - Family Law News

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Family Law News

Posted on: Aug 2, 2018

Welcome to Tip of the Week! Judicial officers will offer a tip each week for members of the Family Law Section. Feel free to send suggestions to Mag. Kim Mattingly at

By Mag. Kimberly Dean Mattingly, Marion Superior Court

As promised, here is a compilation of responses to my question, "what would court staff like family lawyers to know?”

  1. Always identify yourself in person and on the phone. Yes, we may recognize you or your voice, but you won’t go wrong reminding us who you are.
  2. Please listen to what we are saying or asking, and respond accordingly. We realize you are all amped up for your hearing, but take a deep breath and answer our questions or listen to our instructions.
  3. Do not turn your back, walk away, or start fiddling with your phone while we are speaking to you. (Author’s note: shouldn’t that be the rule when conversing with all humans?)
  4. Do not ask us why our judge wants a final declaration or support worksheet or whatever else we are requesting from you. Remember: we are doing the judge’s bidding, so don’t argue with us.
  5. Just because you can file instantaneously does not mean we receive your pleading instantaneously. 
  6. If an order comes back denied with no further explanation, don’t call us to ask why. We cannot tell you anything else about why it might have been denied.
  7. Outside of paternity and juvenile courts, none of the Mags or Comms is assigned to only one court. They will rule on your emergency motion just as soon as they can; we cannot control or predict when that will be.
  8. Please stop asking if we can mail you copies of orders; we cannot. 
  9. Please don’t ask us what your next step should be. If we knew that, we’d be working as you competition!
  10. Also, don’t ask us which trial rule applies to x or y. 
  11. Don’t tell us that “court x does it this way…” and expect us to be impressed. Same with “well, I’ve been practicing for x years and never had to do that.” If you have suggestions or complaints, tell our judges or supervisors.
  12. Do not call us to ask what happened at a hearing, or let your client do this.
  13. In fact, just do not let your client call us.
  14. If your order was denied, please submit a new one when you re-file. The old one has been processed already and the judicial officer will need a new one.
  15. We cannot change or remove anything from the CCS, so don’t ask.
  16. Please don’t call to tell us that our judge is mistaken or wrong. File something. 

Author’s note: The best advice I ever got for dealing with court staff is to treat them like royalty. If they tell you the sky is green, agree that it is indeed a lovely shade of green today. They don’t get paid a lot, and they have long memories. They also tend to be fiercely loyal and will not take kindly to criticism of their judges.

Stay tuned for a new tip next week!

If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Family Law Section page, please email Kara Sikorski at


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